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Journal of Vocational Behavior 14, 224-247 (1979)

The Measurement of Organizational Commitment


RICHARD T. MOWDAY AND RICHARD M. STEERS
University of Oregon
AND
LYMAN W. PORTER
University of California at Irvine
This paper summarizes a stream of research aimed at developing and validating
a measure of employee commitment to work organizations. The instrument.
developed by Porter and his colleagues, is called the Organizational Commitment
Questionnaire (OCQ). Based on a series of studies among 2563 employees in nine
divergent organizations, satisfactory test-retest reliabilities and internal consis-
tency reliabilities were found. In addition, cross-validated evidence of acceptable
levels of predictive, convergent, and discriminant validity emerged for the instru-
ment. Norms for males and females are presented based on the available sample.
Possible instrument limitations and future research needs on the measurement and
study of organizational commitment are reviewed.
Recent years have witnessed a marked increased in interest by social
scientists in the concept of organizational commitment. This interest has
been expressed in both theoretical efforts to explicate the construct and
empirical efforts to determine the antecedents and outcomes of commit-
ment (Buchanan. 1974; Hall & Schneider, 1972; Hrebiniak & Alutto,
This paper represents an abridged version of a longer technical report of the same name.
Additional information concerning the measures reported and the analyses performed are
discussed in this report and can be obtained from the senior author. Support for the
preparation of this manuscript and for many of the studies reported herein was provided by
the Office of Naval Research, Contracts NOOO14-69-A-0200-9001, NR 151-315 and NOO014-
76-C-0164, NR 170-812. A number of individuals have been involved in the development of
the OCQ and in subsequent studies using the instrument for which data were made available.
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Joseph Champoux. William Crampon,
Robert Dubin, James Morris, Frank Smith, Eugene Stone, and John Van Maanen. Dan
Spencer, Thorn McDade, and David Krackhart provided valuable assistance in data analy-
sis. Requests for reprints should be sent to Richard T. Mowday, Graduate School of
Management, University of Oregon, Eugene. OR 97403.
224
OOOI-8791/79/020224-24$02.00/O
Copyright @ 1979 by Academic Press. Inc.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
MEASUREMENTOFORGANIZATIONALCOMMlTMENT 225
1972; Kanter, 1977; Mowday, Porter, & Dubin, 1974; Porter & Steers,
Note 5; Porter, Steers, Mowday, & Boulian, 1974; Salancik, 1977; Shel-
don, 1971; Staw, Note 6; Steers, 1977). Throughout the various studies,
commitment has been repeatedly identified as an important variable in
understanding the work behavior of employees in organizations.
Recent investigations of the topic have largely been marked by a one-
sample, one-study methodological approach. Little systematic or pro-
grammatic research has been carried out. Moreover, studies of commit-
ment have been made more difficult by a general lack of agreement
concerning how best to conceptualize and measure the concept. As noted
by Hrebiniak and Alutto (1972, pp. 558-559), the lack of extensive
examination of the organizational commitment of professionals might be
due to the difficulty of making that concept operational and of deriving
indexes amenable to empirical testing and validation. The present paper
attempts to overcome this shortcoming by reviewing a stream of research
carried out over a 9-year period and including over 2500 employees from
nine widely divergent work organizations.
Dejinition of Organizational Commitment
Although approaches to the definition of organizational commitment
may vary considerably (Becker, 1960; Brown, 1969; Buchanan, 1974;
Grusky, 1966; Hall, Schneider, & Nygren, 1970; Hrebiniak & Alutto, 1972;
Kanter, 1968; Salancik, 1977; Sheldon, 1971; Weiner & Gechman, 1977),
certain trends are evident. In particular, many of these definitions focus
on commitment-related behaviors. For example, when we talk about
someone becoming bound by his actions or behaviors that exceed
formal and/or normative expectations, we are in effect focusing on overt
manifestations of commitment. Such behaviors represent sunk costs in
the organization where individuals forgo alternative courses of action and
choose to link themselves to the organization. This behavioral approach
to commitment is discussed in detail by Staw (Note 6) and Salancik
(1977).
A second trend that emerges from the available theory is to define
commitment in terms of an attitude. That is, attitudinal commitment
exists when the identity of the person (is linked) to the organization
(Sheldon, 1971, p. 143) or when the goals of the organization and those
of the individual become increasingly integrated or congruent (Hall et
al., 1970, p. 176). Attitudinal commitment thus represents a state in which
an individual identifies with a particular organization and its goals and
wishes to maintain membership in order to facilitate these goals. As noted
by March and Simon (1958), such commitment often encompasses an
exchange relationship in which individuals attach themselves to the or-
ganization in return for certain rewards or payments from the organiza-
tion. It is with this second approach to organizational commitment that we
226 MOWDAY. STEERS, AND PORTER
are largely concerned, although our definition will include some aspects of
commitment-related behaviors.
For purposes of instrument development, organizational commitment
was defined here as the relative strength of an individuals identification
with and involvement in a particular organization (Porter & Smith, Note
4). It can be characterized by at least three related factors: (1) a strong
belief in and acceptance of the organizations goals and values; (2) a
willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization; and
(3) a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization.
When defined in this fashion, commitment represents something be-
yond mere passive loyalty to an organization. It involves an active rela-
tionship with the organization such that individuals are willing to give
something of themselves in order to contribute to the the organizations
well being. Hence, to an observer, commitment could be inferred not only
from the expressions of an individuals beliefs and opinions but also from
his or her actions. It is important to note here that this definition does not
preclude the possibility (or even probability) that individuals will also be
committed to other aspects of their environment, such as ones family or
union or political party. It simply asserts that regardless of these other
possible commitments, the organizationally committed individual will
tend to exhibit the three types of behavior identified in the above defini-
tion.
As an attitude, commitment differs from the concept of job satisfaction
in several ways. To begin with, commitment as a construct is more global,
reflecting a general affective response to the organization as a whole. Job
satisfaction, on the other hand, reflects ones response either to ones job
or to certain aspects of ones job. I-Ience, commitment emphasizes at-
tachment to the employing organization, including its goals and values,
while satisfaction emphasizes the specific task environment where an
employee performs his or her duties.
In addition, organizational commitment should be somewhat more
stable over time than job satisfaction. Although day-to-day events in the
work place may affect an employees level of job satisfaction, such
transitory events should not cause an employee to seriously reevaluate his
or her attachment to the overall organization. Available longitudinal evi-
dence supports this view (see, for example, Porter et al., 1974). Commit-
ment attitudes appear to develop slowly but consistently over time as
individuals think about the relationship between themselves and their
employer. Such findings would be predicted from the definition and avail-
able theory. Satisfaction, on the other hand, has been found to be a less
stable measure over time, reflecting more immediate reactions to specific
and tangible aspects of the work environment (e.g., pay, supervision,
etc.). Evidence for this transitory nature of satisfaction can be found in
Smith, Kendall, and Hulin (1969) and Porter et al. (1974).
MEASUREMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT
227
Approaches to Measurement
Measures of organizational commitment are as diverse as the de-
finitions. Most of these measures consist of from two- to four-item scales
that are created on an a priori basis and for which little or no validity and
reliability data are presented. For example, Gruskys (1966) scale used
four items, consisting of company seniority, identification with the com-
pany, attitudes toward company administrators, and general attitudes
toward the company. The median intercorrelation between the items was
r = .15. Hrebiniak and Alutto (1972) used a four-item scale which asked in
essence what it would take for the employee to leave the organization.
Spearman-Brown reliability was reported at .79 but no additional validity
or reliability data were presented. Similar procedures were employed by
Lee (1971), Sheldon (1971), Brown (1969), Gouldner (1960). Hall et al.
(1970), Hall and Schneider (1972) and Buchanan (1974). Kanter (1968.
1977) used a 36-item scale, but failed to report either validity or reliability
data. Finally, Wiener and Gechman (1977) asked employees to keep
diaries of voluntary work-related activities on personal time, using a
decoding procedure to estimate commitment.
In all, little evidence exists of any systematic or comprehensive efforts
to determine the stability, consistency, or predictive powers of the vari-
ous instruments. Researchers rely instead on face validity. If progress is
to be made in explicating the commitment construct so that useful re-
search about its nature and consequences can be carried out, there exists
a need for an instrument that exhibits acceptable psychometric properties
within the constraints of attitude measurement (Nunnally. 1967). Such an
instrument is presented here, along with the psychometric findings that
are available to date. The data summarized here represent initial efforts to
develop a measure of organizational commitment and are presented in the
hopes of stimulating further developmental work in the area so more
accurate indicators of employee commitment can be derived.
The approach to instrument development that was taken here was to
identify 15 items that appeared to tap the three aspects of our definition of
commitment. These items are shown in Table 1. The response format
employed a 7-point Likert scale with the following anchors: strongly
agree, moderately agree, slightly agree, neither agree nor disagree,
slightly disagree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree. Results are then
summed and divided by 15 to arrive at a summary indicator of employee
commitment. Several items were negatively phrased and reverse scored
in an effort to reduce response bias. It was intended that the scale items.
when taken together, would provide a fairly consistent indicator of em-
ployee commitment levels for most working populations.
In order to examine the psychometric properties of the instrument, a
validation strategy was devised which included the use of multiple and
228 MOWDAY. STEERS. AND PORTER
TABLE I
Organizational Commitment Questionnarie (OCQ)
Instructions
Listed below are a series of statements that represent possible feelings that individuals might
have about the company or organization for which they work. With respect to your own
feelings about the particular organization for which you are now working (company name)
please indicate the degree of your agreement or disagreement with each statement by
checking one of the seven alternatives below each statement.
I. I am willing to put in a great deal ofeffort beyond that normally expected in order to help
this organization be successful.
2. I talk up this organization to my friends as a great organization to work for.
3. I feel very little loyalty to this organization. (R)
4. I would accept almost any type of job assignment in order to keep working for this
organization.
5. I find that my values and the organizations values are very similar.
6. I am proud to tell others that I am part of this organization.
7. I could just as well be working for a different organization as long as the type of work
was similar. (R)
8. This organization really inspires the very best in me in the way ofjob performance.
9. It would take very little change in my present circumstances to cause me to leave this
organization. (R)
IO. I am extremely glad that I chose this organization to work for over others I was
considering at the time I joined.
I I. Theres not too much to be gained by sticking with this organization indefinitely. (R)
12. Often. I find it difficult to agree with this organizations policies on important matters
relating to its employees. (R)
13. I really care about the fate of this organization.
14. For me this is the best of all possible organizations for which to work.
15. Deciding to work for this organization was a definite mistake on my part. (Rl
Responses to each item are measured on a 7-point scale with scale point anchors
labeled: (I) strongly disagree: (2) moderately disagree; (3) slightly disagree: (4) neither
disagree nor agree: (5) slightly agree: (6) moderately agree: (7) strongly agree. An R
denotes a negatively phrased and reverse scored item.
diverse samples. It was felt that if a general measure of commitment was
to be achieved, it was necessary to collect validity and reliability data for
various types of employees in different work environments. Moreover, it
was further necessary to cross-validate these results where possible. In
order to provide such data, a series of empirical studies were initiated.
The results of these studies as they bear on the validity of the instrument
are presented here.
Samples
METHOD
The Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ) was adminis-
tered to 2563 employees working in a wide variety ofjobs in nine different
MEASUREMENTOFORGANIZATIONALCOMMITMENT 229
work organizations. In several studies, a nine-item short-form of the
instrument using only positively worded items was administered. The
samples used in the validation of the OCQ are briefly described here.
More complete details of the demographic characteristics of the various
samples are presented in the original published sources mentioned below.
In all, the array of both job classifications and work organizations is
thought to be sufficiently broad to tap a reasonably representative sample
of the working population.
Public employees. Subjects in an unpublished study by Mowday were
employed in six governmental agencies of a Midwestern state. Agencies
participating in the study included custodial hospitals, social service,
budgetary, and licensing agencies. Of the 569 subjects who completed
questionnaires, most (81%) were females employed on a variety of lower-
level clerical and health care-related jobs. A smaller number of supervis-
ory and administrative personnel also participated in the study.
Classied university employees. Morris, Steers, and Koch (in press)
studied the job-related attitudes of 243 classified university employees in a
large West Coast university. Subjects were employed in blue-collar (e.g..
building and grounds maintenance), clerical (e.g., secretary), and admin-
istrative and professional positions (e.g., accountants).
Hospital employees. A study conducted by Steers (1977) examined 382
employees in a large Midwestern hospital. Subjects in the study were
employed in a variety of technical and nontechnical jobs, including admin-
istration. nursing, service work, and clerical positions.
Bank employees. Mowday et al. (1974) studied 411 female clerical
employees working in 37 branches of a major West Coast bank. Subjects
in this study were employed as tellers, secretaries, and bookkeepers.
Telephone company employees. Blue- and white-collar employees
working in a Western telephone company were examined in studies con-
ducted by Stone and Porter (1975) and Dubin. Champoux, and Porter
(1975). The sample was composed of 605 primarily male employees work-
ing on such jobs as station installers and repairmen, reports clerks, PBX
installers, line assigners. and framemen.
Scientists and engineers. A sample of 119 scientists and engineers
employed by a major independent research laboratory in the Midwest was
studied by Steers (1977). Subjects were engaged in both basic and applied
research projects, primarily involving engineering. A variety of technical
and administrative positions were sampled.
Auto company managers. Managers of various engineering depart-
ments in a major automotive manufacturing firm were studied by Steers
and Spencer (1977). The majority of the 115 managers had college de-
grees. and some had advanced degrees.
Psychiatric technicians. Two classes of psychiatric technician trainees
who worked in a major West Coast hospital for the mentally retarded
230 MOWDAY, STEERS, AND PORTER
were studied by Porter et al. (1974). The investigation involved a longitu-
dinal administration of questionnaires over a 16-week period ranging from
10 weeks prior to completion of training to 6 weeks following assignment
to a full-time position. The 60 technicians studied were primarily female
employees involved in patient care and limited treatment.
Retail management trainees. A longitudinal study of management
trainees in a large national retail sales organization was conducted by
Porter, Crampon, and Smith (1976) and Crampon, Mowday, Smith, and
Porter (Note 1). Subjects were all recent college graduates entering a 9- to
12-month training program. Questionnaires were administered at regular
intervals from the first day in the organization to 15 months of employ-
ment. A total of 212 trainees began the study, although the sample size
decreased substantially over the 15-month period due to involuntary
military leaves of absence among 56% of the trainees and a lesser amount
of voluntary turnover.
Measures
A variety of measures were used to assess the predictive, convergent,
and discriminant validity of the OCQ. Since not all of the measures were
available in each study, Table 2 summarizes the use of each measure for
the various samples. The measures are briefly described in the presenta-
tion of results below.
RESULTS
A variety of analyses were carried out using the OCQ among these
samples. In particular, interest focused on providing information perti-
nent to the following psychometric properties of the instrument: (1) means
and standard deviations: (2) internal consistency reliability; (3) test-retest
reliability; (4) convergent validity; (5) discriminant validity; (6) predictive
validity; and (7) norms. While data from all samples were not sufficient to
carry out all analyses, results of those analyses that were possible are
reported here.
Means and Standard Deviations
Initial attention can be focused on the distribution properties of the
OCQ across the nine samples. These results are shown in Table 3. As can
be seen from this table, the mean level of commitment ranges from a low
of 4.0 to a high of 6.1 across the nine samples. Mean scores are typically
slightly above the midpoint on the 7-point Likert scale. Moreover,
standard deviations indicate an acceptable distribution of responses
within samples.
Internal Consistency Reliability
Estimates of internal consistency were calculated in three different
ways: coefficient (Y, item analysis, and factor analysis. First, as shown in
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232 MOWDAY. STEERS, AND PORTER
TABLE 3
Means, Standard Deviations, and Internal Consistencies for OCQ
N Mean SD Coefficient
Public employees 569
Classified university employees 243
Hospital employees 382
Bank employees 411
Telephone company employees 605
Scientist and engineers 119
Auto company managers II5
Psychiatric technician9 60
Retail management trainees 59
4.5 .90
4.6 1.30
5.1 1.18
5.2 1.07
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4.4 .98
5.3 1.05
4.0/3.5 1.00/1.00
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NA
a A nine-item shortened version of the OCQ was used in this study.
b For this sample, means and standard deviations are reported separately for stayers and
leavers across four time periods.
Table 3, coefficient (Y is consistently very high, ranging from .82 to .93,
with a median of .90 (Cronbach, 1951). These results compare favorably
with most attitude measures (cf., Smith et al., 1969).
Item analyses (correlations between each item of the commitment scale
and the total score less the item) are reported in Table 4. The last column
in Table 4 reports the average item-total score correlations across six
samples. In three of the six samples for which these data are available,
a nine-item short-form of the instrument utilizing only positively worded
items was used. The average item-total score correlations reported for the
negatively worded items are therefore based on three samples while the
average correlations for the remaining positively worded items are based
on six samples. A review of the correlations reported in Table 4 indicates
that each item had a positive correlation with the total score for the OCQ,
with the range of average correlations being from .36 to .72, and a median
correlation of .64. In general, the negatively worded items correlate less
highly with the total score than the positively worded items, although this
difference is not great. These results suggest the 15 items of the OCQ are
relatively homogeneous with respect to the underlying attitude construct
they measure.
To further examine the homogeneity of the OCQ items, factor analyses
were performed on six samples and the results were rotated to Kaisers
(1958) varimax solution. These analyses generally resulted in a single-
factor solution and support the previously stated conclusion that the items
are measuring a single common underlying construct. Where two factors
Due to limitations ofjournal space, these tables were omitted from the article. They are
available from the senior author upon request.
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234 MOWDAY, STEERS, AND PORTER
emerged from an analysis, the eigenvalue associated with the second
factor never exceeded 1.0. Further, the percentage of common variance
explained by the second factors ranged from 2.4 to 15.5, while the per-
centage of variance associated with the first factor ranged from 83.2 to
92.6. As would be expected, lower and more complex patterns of factor
loadings were generally found for those items having a lower item-total
score correlation (cf. Table 4).
Test-Retest Reliability
In order to examine the stability of the OCQ over time, test-retest
reliabilities were computed for two samples for which multiple data points
were available. For the sample of psychiatric technicians, test-retest
reliabilities were r = .53, .63, and .75 over 2-, 3-, and 4-month periods,
respectively. For the retail management trainees, test-retest reliability
was r = .72 over a 2-month period and r = .62 for 3 months.
These data compare favorably to other attitude measures. For example,
Smith et al. (1969) reported test-retest reliabilities for the JDI ranging
from .45 to .75.
Evidence of Convergent Validity
In view of the absence of acceptable standards for comparison, it is
difficult to establish convergent validity for a measure of organizational
commitment. Even so, it would appear that at least five lines of evidence
can be suggested which, when taken together, are suggestive of conver-
gent validity. These data are summarized in Table 5.
First, the OCQ should be related to other instruments which are de-
signed to measure similar affective responses. In order to provide for such
a comparison, the OCQ was correlated with the Sources of Organizational
Attachment Questionnaire, a l2-item scale designed to measure the per-
ceived influence of various aspects of the job, work environment, and
organization on the individuals desire to remain with or leave the organi-
zation (Mowday et al., 1974). This instrument seemed particularly rele-
vant for a point of comparison since it differs structurally from the OCQ,
thereby hopefully reducing common methods variance problems in the
analysis. As can be seen in Table 5, convergent validities across six
diverse samples range from .63 to .74, with a median of .70. In this case,
then, consistent evidence of convergent validity for the OCQ was found.
The second step in determining convergent validity was to examine the
extent to which the OCQ was related to employees behavioral intentions
to remain. Intent to remain is deeply imbedded in our conceptualization of
commitment. A single item assessing the extent to which employees
anticipated leaving the organization was available in five studies. Sig-
nificant correlations were found between OCQ and intent to remain in
each study. Although the magnitude of three of the five correlations is not
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236 MOWDAY, STEERS, .AND PORTER
overly high, strong relationships would not be expected in view of the fact
that intent to remain or leave represented only one of the three primary
components in the definition of commitment and a number of personal and
environmental factors can be expected to influence intent to remain in
addition to ones commitment to the organization. Moreover, in one
study, the OCQ was found to be strongly related to employees estimates
of how long they would remain with the organization.
Third, according to theory, commitment should be related to motiva-
tional force to perform and intrinsic motivation. That is. highly committed
employees are thought to be motivated to exert high levels of energy on
behalf of the organization. Based on four studies where such data were
available, some evidence emerged of a moderate relationship between the
two variables (using two different measures of motivation), with correla-
tions ranging from .35 to .45. The measure of motivational force to
perform is described by Crampon et al. (Note I) and the measure of
intrinsic motivation was taken from the Michigan Organizational Assess-
ment Package (Nadler. 1975).
Fourth. in a study conducted by Dubin et al. (1975) it was found that
organizational commitment was related to the central life interest of
employees, defined in terms of an expressed orientation toward work ot
nonwork activities. in two diverse samples (see Dubin et al., 1975, for a
description of the measure). The results indicate that employees with a
work-oriented central life interest are more likely to be highly committed
to the organization than employees expressing a nonwork interest.
Moreover, nonwork-oriented employees were more likely than work-
oriented employees to express low levels of organizational commitment.
Finally, in the study of retail employees, it was possible to secure
independent ratings of employee commitment (e.g.. willingness to exert
effort, belief in goals and values of the organization, etc.) by the em-
ployees superior. Because of the narrow range of expressed commitment
for this particular sample, the correlation between OCQ and supervisor
ratings of commitment was calculated using the restriction of range for-
mula (see Porter & Smith, Note 4. for details). Using this procedure. the
OCQ correlated at I = .60 with independent commitment ratings (the
uncorrected correlation was I = .20, p < .05).
In all. then. the pattern of findings does serve to provide some evidence
of convergent validity for OCQ.
As an attitude. organizational commitment would be expected to be
related to other job-related attitudes. However, if we are to explicate
successfully the commitment construct and identify it as a unique variable
in the study of organizational behavior. it must demonstrate acceptable
levels of discriminant validity when compared to other attitudes. In order
MEASUREMENTOFORGANlZATlONALCOMMITMENT 237
to investigate the extent of discriminant validity of the OCQ, it was
compared against three other attitude measures: job involvement. career
satisfaction, and job satisfaction. Results are shown in Table 6.
Several lines of evidence emerge from these data bearing on the ques-
tion of discriminant validity of the OCQ. First. relationships between
organizational commitment and Lodahl and Kejners (1965) job involve-
ment measure ranged from r = .30 to r = .56 across four samples. Second,
correlations between organizational commitment and a three-item mea-
sure of career satisfaction developed by Steers and Braunstein (1976)
were .39 and .40 for two samples. Finally, across five studies and 37 data
points, correlations between organizational commitment and scales of the
Job Descriptive Index ranged from .Ol to .68, with a median correlation of
.41 (these data include results from studies conducted independently by
Brief and Aldag, Note 2, and Horn, Katerberg, and Hulin, Note 3). The
highest relationships were generally found between commitment and
satisfaction with the work itself. In the study by Horn et al. (Note 3).
organizational commitment was found to be more highly related to overall
satisfaction with the organization than to satisfaction with work, promo-
tions, supervision, pay, or co-workers, although the difference was mar-
ginal for satisfaction with work.
In view of the typically high correlations found between various job
attitudes measured at the same point in time. these correlations are
sufficiently low as to provide some indication of an acceptable level of
discriminant validity. The percentage of common variance shared by
organizational commitment and the other measures did not exceed 50%
and was generally less than 25% for most relationships. The magnitude of
these correlations, however, are clearly higher than might be desired to
demonstrate conclusively discriminant validity, particularly when it is
considered that correlations were calculated among instruments of less
than perfect reliability.
Etvidence of Predictive Validit)
Finally, the theory underlying the commitment construct suggest that
highly committed employees will be less likely to leave their jobs and
may. under some circumstances, perform at higher levels than their less
committed counterparts. Data bearing on this point were available from
five studies, again among widely diverse groups of employees.
The predictive power of the OCQ vis-a-vis subsequent voluntary turn-
over has been examined in five studies, including one study conducted
independently by Horn et al. (Note 3) which used a measure of actual
reenlistment among part-time military personnel (see Table 7). Across
nine data points, eight significant correlations between commitment and
turnover were found. The ninth data point. where commitment was mea-
sured during the initial employment stage, was not expected to be sig-
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MEASUREMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT 239
TABLE 7
Predictive Validities for the OCQ
Turnover Tenure Absenteeism Performance
Public employees
Hospital employees
Scientists and engineers
Psychiatric technicians*
Retail management trainees
-.19*** .23*** -.13***
-.17*** .26*** .08 .05
.07
.II**
IO**
- 33***
-.02
-.32**
- .43***
-.43***
-41**
- .43**
.36*
.33*
.20
Horn, Katerberg, & Hulin
(Note 3)d SE**
* Significant at the .lO level.
** Significant at the .05 level.
*** Significant at the .Ol level.
a For the hospital sample, four separate measures of performance were available for the
one time period.
* Results presented are from four data points of a longitudinal study. Hence, the relation-
ship between commitment and turnover increased over time.
Results for the turnover anlaysis presented are from two data points of a longitudinal
study representing measures taken on the employees first day and the last 2 months in the
organization. Analysis for performance were available for measures taken at three points in
time and represent cross-lag relationships between commitment and subsequent perfor-
mance from 4 to 6 months, 6 to 9 months, and 4 to 9 months.
d This study used a measure of actual reenlistment among part-time military personnel.
nificant (see Porter et al., 1974, for details). Hence, evidence for a consis-
tent inverse commitment-turnover relationship emerges, although the
magnitude of the correlations clearly show that other variables also play
an important role in influencing turnover (Porter & Steers, 1973).
In a longitudinal study among newly hired psychiatric technicians, the
OCQ was compared against the JDI in predicting turnover across time.
The results, shown in Table 8, indicate that the relation between commit-
ment and turnover strengthened over time (as would be predicted), while
this was not the case for the JDI. Moreover, the OCQ proved to be a
somewhat better predictor of turnover than any facet of the JDI. Similar
results have also been reported by Horn et al. (Note 3), although they
found no difference in predictive power between commitment and satis-
faction when the intention to remain component of commitment was
partialed from the commitment-turnover relationship. In several static
240 MOWDAY, STEERS, AND PORTER
TABLE 8
Discriminant Analysis between Stayers and Leavers for Commitment and
Job Satisfaction for Psychiatric Technicians
Variable
Std Discriminant Weights
Organizational Commitment
JDI-Supervision
JDI-Co-Workers
JDI-Work
JDI-Pay
JDI-Promotion
Test Statistic
Degrees of Freedom
Total Discriminatory Power
Time Time
Period I Period 2
-.I2 1.04
-.25 .05
.48 -.38
.57 .I0
.85 -.I8
-.40 .I9
5.1 4.7
6 6
12.5% 7.4%
Time
Period 3
1.04
-.24
-.I9
-.50
-.Ol
.52
13.5*
6
20.7%
Time
Period 4
1.43
-.I2
-.25
-.39
-.28
.Ol
13.0*
6
21.0%
* Significant at the .05 level.
Note. From Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction, and Turnover among
Psychiatric Technicians by L. W. Porter, R. M. Steers, R. T. Mowday, and P. V. Boulian,
Journal of Applied Psychology. 1974, 59, 603-609. Copyright 1974 by the American Psy-
chological Association. Reprinted by permission.
analyses mixed results emerged between the OCQ and the JDI insofar as
their predictive powers vis-a-vis turnover are concerned (Porter & Steers,
1977; Steers, 1977). Even so, the OCQ was found to be a fairly stable
predictor of employee turnover, as would be predicted by theory.
In three studies where measures of employee absenteeism were avail-
able, significant relationships were found between organizational com-
mitment and absenteeism in two of the three samples. The magnitude of
these relationships were generally low, as might be expected in view of
the fact these measures pooled voluntary and involuntary absences and
that a number of other factors in addition to commitment are likely to
influence employee absenteeism (see Steers & Rhodes, 1978). In any
event, the findings were generally in the predicted direction and consis-
tent with theory.
Related to the notion of turnover is the concept of actual tenure in the
organization (Salancik, 1977). Here again, as shown in Table 7, significant
correlations were found between the OCQ and actual tenure.
Finally, we would expect commitment to be modestly related to em-
ployee performance. This relationship should not be overly strong in view
of the many factors that have been found to influence performance (e.g.,
role clarity, reward systems, etc.). Mowday et al. (1974) reported the
mean level of commitment for employees in high performing bank
branches was greater than the mean for employees in low performing
branches.
MEASUREMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT
241
Performance data collected at the individual level of analysis (i.e.,
supervisory ratings) were available from two samples (see Table 7). For
the sample of hospital employees, two of the four correlations between
organizational commitment and performance were significant, although
the general magnitude of these correlations was low. For the sample of
retail management trainees, Crampon et al. (Note 1) reported cross-lag
relationships between organizational commitment and performance mea-
sured after 4, 6, and 9 months in the organization. Although none of the
concurrent correlations approached significance, some evidence was
found for the relationship between organizational commitment and per-
formance measured in subsequent time periods in two of the three possi-
ble comparisons. Significant differences between the cross-lag correla-
tions were only found for the 4- to 6-month comparison. No evidence was
found to substantiate a relationship between performance and subsequent
commitment, suggesting that organizational commitment may lead to
higher levels of performance, as predicted. These results must be inter-
preted with caution, however, since they are based on a small sample and
relationships did not reach customary levels of statistical significance.
Taken together, results across these three studies indicate that the
relationship between organizational commitment and performance is in
the predicted direction, although the strength of the relationships found
were modest.
Norms
Based on the results of the studies carried out to date, it is possible to
provide some tentative indication of how one employees score on the
OCQ compares in magnitude with other employees. An attempt to pro-
vide such an indication is provided in the normative data shown in Table
9. This table shows the percentile conversions for raw scores on the OCQ
for both males and females. Although these data should facilitate more
accurate comparative analyses of relative levels of employee commitment
by indicating how a particular raw score on the OCQ compares against
other scores for a broad sample of employees of the same gender, these
norms should be used with caution since the data upon which they are
based is somewhat limited.
DISCUSSION
Criteria for evaluating the psychometric properties of an attitude mea-
sure have perhaps been most highly influenced by the work of Campbell
and Fiske (1959) on multitrait-multimethod matrices. These researchers
suggested very rigorous standards for establishing the reliability and valid-
ity of a measurement instrument based upon a study or studies using
several different methods of measurement and measuring both similar and
dissimilar attitude constructs. If the standards established by Campbell
242
MOWDAY, STEERS, AND PORTER
TABLE 9
OCQ Norms for Males and Females
OCQ
score Males
Percentile score
Females
7.00 99.6 99.3
6.75 98.4 97.4
6.50 94.6 94.3
6.25 90.7 89.4
6.00 85.8 80.8
5.75 77.1 74.4
5.50 69.3 67.1
5.25 62.4 58.5
5.00 55.7 49.3
4.75 48.8 43.1
4.50 42.3 34.8
4.25 35.0 28.0
4.00 26.4 20.9
3.75 20.9 17.5
3.50 16.4 12.8
3.25 11.8 9.9
3.00 8.4 6.3
2.75 6.3 4.7
2.50 4.3 2.8
2.25 2.7 1.9
2.00 1.8 I.2
1.75 I.1 0.9
1.50 0.4 0.5
1.25 0.2 0.3
1.00 0.0 0.0
a Norms were calculated based on each of the samples reported in Table 1. Ns for males
and females are 978 and 1,530, respectively. Reduced sample size for this analysis is due
missing responses.
and Fiske (1959) were interpreted literally, it is apparent that few, if any,
attitude measurement instruments would be judged to possess adequate
psychometric properties, including many instruments that are widely used
in organizational research. The extent to which our instruments can
measure up to the high standards set by these authors is limited by the
common methods of measurement that are typically used both within and
between studies, our level of sophistication in measuring attitudes, and
our theoretical understanding of the attitude constructs we attempt to
measure. It therefore seems more reasonable to evaluate the properties of
a particular instrument in view of these constraints and relative to the
validity and reliability available for other widely accepted attitude mea-
sures.
With this frame of reference in mind, several conclusions can be drawn
MEASUREMENTOFORGANlZATIONALCOMMlTMENT
243
concerning the utility of the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire
for research in organizations. Reasonably strong evidence was presented
for the internal consistency and test-retest reliability of the OCQ. Com-
pared with other measures, the items of the OCQ were found to be
reasonably homogeneous and the results suggest that the overall measure
of organizational commitment was relatively stable over short periods of
time. Evidence was also presented of acceptable levels of convergent,
discriminant, and predictive validity, particularly when compared against
other similar attitude measures. The results of the analyses concerning the
three types of validity require further comment, however, to place these
findings in perspective.
Evidence of convergent validity for the OCQ was suggested by moder-
ate correlations found between organizational commitment and other
measures of both similar attitude constructs (e.g.. sources of organiza-
tional attachment) and one of the component parts of the definition of
organizational commitment (e.g., motivational force to perform). Discri-
minant validity was assessed by examining the relationships between
commitment and satisfaction with ones career and specific aspects of the
job and work environment. Commitment was found to be moderately
correlated with several of these satisfaction measures, with the percent-
age of common variance shared by the measures rarely exceeding 25%.
While the correlations found for convergent validity are on the average
larger than the correlations found for discriminant validity (7 = .52 vs .42),
this difference is not as large as might be desired. Clearly, correlations of
lower magnitude for discriminant validity would be more desirable to
demonstrate conclusively that the OCQ is related more highly to similar
constructs than different constructs. What is perhaps most important in
evaluating the validity of the OCQ, however, is the pattern of results
across both analyses. The OCQ was found to be generally more highly
related to measures of similar as opposed to different attitude measures
and the relationships found between commitment and satisfaction were
not so high as to lead one to conclude they were measuring the same
attitude. Compared with the evidence for other measures, this pattern of
results suggests the OCQ possesses acceptable, although far from perfect.
levels of convergent and discriminant validity.
Evidence for the predictive validity of the OCQ was demonstrated by
relatively consistent relationships in the predicted direction between
commitment and measures of employee turnover, absenteeism, tenure in
the organization, and, to a lesser extent, performance on the job. The
magnitude of these relationships was frequently not high, however,
suggesting employee behavior in organizations is determined by a com-
plex set of factors and not just commitment to the organization. Given the
complexity of the determinants of such behaviors as turnover and absen-
teeism, it would be truly surprising to find any single attitude measure
244 MOWDAY.STEERS. AND PORTER
highly related to a particular behavior. The results presented here suggest
that organizatiocal commitment correlates as well, if not better in some
cases, with certain employee behaviors than most commonly used at-
titude measures (e.g., job satisfaction). Where comparisons were avail-
able between the relative predictive power of commitment and a well-
developed measure of job satisfaction. commitment was found to be a
better and more stable predictor of turnover (Horn et al., Note 3; Porter et
al., 1974) and group level performance (Mowday et al., 1974). These
results indicate that organizational commitment is an important construct
to include among other determinants in modeling and researching em-
ployee behavior in organizations.
Experience to date with the OCQ suggests several cautions to potential
users of the instrument. First, the OCQ is the type of instrument which
respondents may easily dissemble, if they are so inclined. The intent of
the items are not disguised in such a way as to make it difficult for
respondents to manipulate their scores. In this regard, the results of any
particular administration of the OCQ are likely to be somewhat dependent
upon the circumstances of administration. Researchers interested in using
the OCQ should be aware of the possibility that employees may distort
their responses if they feel, for example, threatened by completing the
questionnaire or are unsure how their responses will be used. It is impor-
tant in using the OCQ, therefore. to exercise appropriate caution in
administering the questionnaire.
Second, results of the reliability and item analyses suggest that the
short form of the OCQ (i.e., using only the nine positively worded items)
may be an acceptable substitute for the longer scale in situations where
questionnaire length is a consideration. Even though the internal consis-
tency for the nine-item scale is generally equal to the full instrument, care
should be taken in constructing a short form since several of the nega-
tively worded items that might be discarded were correlated more highly
with the total score than several of the positively phrased items.
Moreover, the negatively worded items were included to guard against the
acquiescence response tendency and removal of these items may increase
this tendency. The data presented here should allow individual re-
searchers to make their own judgments concerning the appropriateness of
a short form for their particular research situation. Where conditions
permit, however, we recommend the use of the full instrument.
As a result of the studies reported here. it is possible to identify several
areas in which future research would be useful. First, as was noted earlie
in the paper, the present work focused on measuring attitudinal commit-
ment. There are other ways in which commitment might be concep-
tualized and measured and future research may in fact prove these to be
superior to the present formulation. It would be useful if future research
efforts were directed toward comparing attitudinal and behavioral con-
MEASUREMENT OF ORG.4NIZATION.4L COMMITMENT
245
ceptualizations of commitment. How are these two forms of commitment
related, if at ail? Does behavioral commitment lead to or facilitate attitud-
inal commitment? Greater understanding of this relationship would assist
in the development of broader models of employee attachment to organi-
zations.
Second, from a theoretical perspective, it would be helpful to learn
more about the major antecedents and outcomes of organizational com-
mitment. While some progress has been made in this area (see, for
example, Steers (1977) and Porter et al. (1974)), much more work remains
to be done. In particular, it would be useful to examine the stability of
predictors of commitment across divergent samples (e.g., different occu-
pations) and across employees with widely divergent demographic char-
acteristics (e.g., age. sex, education). Moreover, additional investigations
of the commitment-job performance relationship are in order.
Finally, questions need to be raised concerning how organizational
commitment as a construct relates to the larger issue of employee be-
havior in work organizations. This suggestion points to the need for
broader theories of organizational behavior that incorporate (but do not
rely exclusively on) commitment as a predictor of behavior. Several
directions for theoretical and empirical work can be identified. For exam-
ple, what are the effects of high levels of organizational commitment on
the impact of organizationally designed motivation and reward systems?
Would a more participative leadership style be more appropriate among
highly committed employees than among less committed ones? In fact,
can commitment to the organization be considered as a substitute (01
partial substitute) for leadership?
Answers to questions such as these should contribute to a broader
understanding of the role of employee attitudes (including commitment) in
the determination of employee behavior and organizational performance.
It is hoped that the instrument presented here will facilitate such research
by providing a standardized measure with acceptable levels of validity
and reliability with which to assess employee commitment to organiza-
tions.
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Received: June 19, 1978